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We developed a COVID-19 transmission model used as part of RAND's web-based COVID-19 decision support tool that compares the effects of nonpharmaceutical public health interventions (NPIs) on health and economic outcomes. An interdisciplinary approach informed the selection and use of multiple NPIs, combining quantitative modeling of the health/economic impacts of interventions with qualitative assessments of other important considerations (e.g., cost, ease of implementation, equity). This paper provides further details of our model, describes extensions, presents sensitivity analyses, and analyzes strategies that periodically switch between a base NPI level and a higher NPI level. We find that a periodic strategy, if implemented with perfect compliance, could have produced similar health outcomes as static strategies but might have produced better outcomes when considering other measures of social welfare. Our findings suggest that there are opportunities to shape the tradeoffs between economic and health outcomes by carefully evaluating a more comprehensive range of reopening policies.

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This research was conducted by the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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